Sorry, Kevin James — Adult Swim Already Gave John Daly the Perfect TV Portrayal

Kevin James is making a limited series about the unconventional golf icon, but Jon Daly already did it better
Sorry, Kevin James — Adult Swim Already Gave John Daly the Perfect TV Portrayal

The King of Queens star Kevin James may have the all-important life rights, but the only comic actor we’ll ever accept to play eccentric golf legend John Daly is Jon Daly.

Despite his exhilarating (for golf) comeback win at The PGA Championship in 1991 and another tournament victory at The Open in 1995, John Daly is still best known, inside and outside of the golf world, for being the colorful, unconventional, counter-country-club-culture wild child of the golf world who sticks out like a neon-green sore thumb any time he’s photographed next to the rest of the traditional and straitlaced professionals of the upper-class’ favorite pastime. 

Daly’s well-documented on-and-off-the-course antics are the perfect subject for a TV treatment, and the golf great is a slightly more fitting sports personality for James to portray after we all collectively decided to ignore his weirdo 2022 Netflix movie Home Team, in which James played an uncomfortable family-mannish version of controversial NFL coach Sean Payton mid-Bountygate scandal.

However, when Deadline announced that James and production company Village Roadshow had secured the rights to make a biographical limited series about Daly with James in the lead role, it was hard to get excited about the idea despite the apparent good fit — because we’ve already seen John Daly brought to life on TV when Kroll Show star Jon Daly wrote, directed and starred in the Adult Swim one-off special The Adult Swim Golf Classic in 2016.

Jon Daly’s take on John Daly even featured Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott playing Australian golf champion Adam Scott — too bad they didn’t know any comics named Tiger Woods.

For The Adult Swim Golf Classic, Jon Daly and Adult Swim recruited actual Golf Channel announcer Gary Williams and beloved Bel-Air golf pro Eddie Merrins to calmly commentate the match as Jon Daly and Severance's Adam Scott shanked drives directly into the clear blue Pacific Ocean. Framed as a 1966 charity competition between the two professional golfers bearing the stars’ names, The Adult Swim Golf Classic is an unusually subdued delight of a special from a channel better known for explosive imagery and graphic gags than subtle, sedate satire.

Really, the entire, stupidly simple premise of Jonn Daly’s special is that he and his co-star share names with pro golfers while neither of them are any good at golf themselves. And, yet, The Adult Swim Golf Classic is filled to the brim with incredibly funny bits that betray its muted presentation — such as how the two competitors shake one another’s hand any time literally anything happens and how the brilliantly committed announcers add their dry commentary without ever breaking character. When both Jon Daly and Adam Scott from The Aviator reach the green on the 18th hole, Williams says in his soothing monotone, “This match is far from over.”

The Adult Swim Golf Classic is less a parody of golf and the personalities represented by their namesakes than it is a pastiche of the presentation of golf competitions on television. Jon Daly, who once bought the domain name and filled it with pictures of himself dressed as John Daly, told Vulture around the time of his special’s release, “My dad was obsessed with golf, and I would watch golf with him on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. It was constantly on — I was constantly taking naps, fully asleep to the whispery, weird sounds of golf.” 

Jon Daly further clarified, “I would say I’ve been obsessed with the aesthetic of televised golf more so than the actual game of golf, which I am absolutely terrible at, as you’ll see in the special.”

So, when you see Kevin James dressed in tie-dye slacks making jokes about Jack Daniels while eating Peanut M&M’s, know that his John Daly will never beat Jon Daly’s John Daly.


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